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Machine Translation Postediting Means a Drastic Drop in Translation Costs
April 13, 2017 - By: - In: Machine Translation - Comments Off on Machine Translation Postediting Means a Drastic Drop in Translation Costs

Machine translation has improved by leaps and bounds. What was once considered machine-produced gibberish is increasingly giving human translators a run for their money, particularly for predictable texts like weather reports.

While machine translation (MT) is also more economical than human translation, it’s not a true alternative yet. In most cases, machine translation can’t be used as is. And that’s where the expertise of machine translation posteditors comes in. Machine translation posteditors are the human editors that work to improve the output of machine translation. They combine the MT output with their linguistic expertise to provide a better reading experience to human audiences.

Besides the cost savings, it is estimated that machine translation plus postediting is 40% more efficient than human translation alone. But what exactly do machine translation posteditors do, and how do they do it?

Types of Machine Translation Postediting

Machine translation postediting comes in two flavors: light postediting and full postediting.

Light postediting suggests a lighter touch, only asking the human editors to ensure that the MT output is accurate in meaning and understandable to the reading audience. However, this means that style is not taken into account, grammar and syntax may be awkward, and the text may sound as if it were produced by a computer. It’s the most economical option, but for reasons of quality, light postediting is typically only used when a translation is needed urgently and/or for an organization’s internal purposes.

Full postediting, on the other hand, calls for a higher level of involvement by the posteditor. (This makes it more expensive than light postediting, but still less expensive than full human translation.) In addition to making sure that the MT output is accurate in meaning and understandable to the reading audience, full postediting addresses the text’s grammar, syntax and punctuation, ensuring they are correct and appropriate. The result is similar in quality to a human translation, although it may not yet match the style of a native-speaking translator. Full postediting is typically used when a machine-translated text is intended to be published, or widely disseminated inside or outside an organization.

MT Postediting Strategies

How do they do it? Let’s examine some of the things that posteditors watch out for.

Light posteditors use the machine translation output as much as possible. However, they take special care that information has not been inadvertently added in or left out. They also edit anything they have identified as offensive or culturally unacceptable.

In addition to the above, full posteditors correct any grammatical and syntactical errors. They pay particular attention to terminology, making sure that the terms have been translated in the appropriate way (or left untranslated per the client’s wishes). They also ensure that the spelling and punctuation, as well as formatting, are correct.

How Much Is It Costing You to Translate the Old-Fashioned Way?

Responsive Translation is a full-service translation agency. We provide traditional human translation and adaptation, as well as machine translation and postediting in over 150 languages and dialects. Check with us to save money on your translation program. Call me at 212-355-4455 ext 208 or write to me at

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